How I Learned to Love My Spencer Pratt Chores

May 23, 2010

Image courtesy Real Simple

Image courtesy Real Simple

As a Penelope, I like to clean, most of the time. Sure, when I’m tired I don’t feel like it, but mostly, cleaning is fun. I like a tidy, fresh living environment and my husband and kids do, too. We pitch in and generally, we’re pretty proud of our little abode.

There are a few chores, though, that I really dislike. I’m not quite sure why, I just hate doing them. They annoy me. These are what I’ve come to think of as my “Spencer Pratt” chores.

I decided to spend a week timing how long it actually takes me to do them, just to get a sense of how truly onerous these tasks are:

  • Wet mop my hardwood floors (12 minutes)
  • Cleaning the shower (10 minutes)
  • De-crumbing the toaster and cleaning around it. (5 minutes)
  • Paying bills (9 minutes)

WAIT! So, I spend more time dreading these tasks than it takes to actually do them? How dumb is that?

I challenge you to choose 3 tasks you really dislike either at work or at home and time how long they really take. Once you  know what your time investment actually is, you might find, as I did, that you can re-frame the task.

Rather than thinking “Geez, I really hate doing this, but, here goes…grumble grumble”, I now say “I’m going to take 12 minutes and then I’ll have floors that are nice and clean”. OK, that sentence is obnoxious and I want to smack myself, but you know what I mean.

It’s amazing what a little perspective will do for you. (I still loathe Spencer Pratt, though. That ain’t changin’.)

For more tips on doing some “dirty jobs” around the house, see this feature from Real Simple.



  1. Makeup Drawer Before and After : or, how to make a huge difference in just 5 minutes My makeup drawer is one I use about 10 times...
  2. I secretly like some of my weekend chores I know I’m supposed to complain about the various chores...
  3. How Penelope Takes a Vacation The end of the year means some vacation time for...

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Clearly Composed May 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

Love the term Spencer Pratt chores!! Mine would be folding laundry. For some reason, in my head, I make a huge deal out of having to fold a pile of clothes. It takes ten minutes max and yet I bemoan the task as if I had to dig a ditch in the midday sun! Now I like the image of when it is time to do a load of thinking…Let’s Pratt…and smiling as I do it.

Amanda @ Serenity Now May 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

You must pay bills online?? I like a paper trail, so I write checks for our bills…and there are a lot of them. ;) I HATE cleaning bathrooms, paying bills, and putting away laundry. I have to agree with you…I spend a lot more time whining about putting laundry away than actually working on it! ;)

rose May 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

ha ha… such a great start to my monday – you’ve inspired me to go and tackle my handwashing mountain, err, i mean pile.x

kirwin @ Graceful Creative May 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm

LOL…I love the term “Spencer Pratt chores”…chuckle, chuckle…
Mine would be:
1) Filling the car up with gas
2) Cutting my son’s hair (and I just finished that one so I won’t have to do that for a while now)
3) Paying bills

Marci@OvercomingBusy May 23, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I wrote about this same thing back in September and called the post Just Do It. http://overcomingbusy.com/2009/02/03/just-do-it/ It was about how I hated to unload the dishwasher and would do anything to avoid it. One day I timed myself and it took just 2 minutes! Yes. 2 minutes!!!! And I was avoiding it! Now, I just realize it takes such a small amt of time and just get it done.
However, I still really don’t like to fold laundry or mop the floors. I find myself trying to avoid those chores now.

Marcia Francois, Organising Queen May 24, 2010 at 3:04 am

Oh, I’m in a place of kindred spirits as my worst chore is laundry!
http://takechargesolutions.org/blog/2009/11/09/keeping-up-with-my-most-hated-chore-the-laundry/

But yes, that is definitely one of my tricks when I don’t want to do anything really – I say “I”ll give it 5 mins” and then I work HARD and FAST because I hate it that much, it takes care of it in 95% of cases.

I’ve never heard of Spencer Pratt …….. (what does that say about me???)

Piper May 24, 2010 at 7:05 am

ha ha – this post was needed for my monday – i’m soooo calling my dreaded chores “spencer pratt” now – love it!! and i have to say – i’m pretty sure i spend much more time complaining and dreading these tasks than the actual tasks – i don’t think i’ll ever not complain about cleaning the bathroom :)

olivia May 24, 2010 at 7:48 am

HaHa!! Spencer Pratt! Don’t you just want to smack him?! I only see the show at the gym or work and I don’t even TRY to watch it, but I’ve seen it enough to know that fact about him. My S.P. chore is putting away the laundry. I LOVE to wash it, don’t mind folding it…but HATE putting it away. I also avoid emptying the dishwasher. How does a family of TWO require the dishwasher to be run 3 times in 2 days?! I just try to pass on those chores to my husband, but judging from the piles of clothes sitting in our bedroom and living room for about a week, that isn’t quite the solution. ;) Thanks for the “I just want to slap him but since I can’t, I might as well put away the clothes and feel better” motivation.

sunny May 24, 2010 at 8:13 am

(wondering if Spencer himself will find your post and leave a lovely comment for you….) :)

Isn’t it crazy how we can spend so very much time dreading something that in reality takes just moments. I had laundry to fold that was taking over the couch. Timed it. Five minutes. That’s it. what’s my problem?!

I used to procrastinate on laundry then do it all at once. I had to pace myself and do one load of laundry per day..to make it manageable and not try to do it all in one day. Then I really would have a mountain of laundry to do.

I’m on a French Chic yahoo group…and they talk about having a chic “inner French girl”… Mine would be called Sophie and I arrived home last night from a day out and thought, “What if I pretend Sophie is a chic Parisian who is using my home as her country home for a bit and she has to use my home as-is including my wardrobe. I bet she’d make the kitchen sparkle, whip up a tasty meal from a few ingredients on hand, and also create a stylish work wardrobe for this week with a few core pieces of mine and some accessories.”

So now my kitchen is really sparkling and I have on a simple but stylish outfit for work (blouse, a-line black skirt and pretty flats)today accessorized with a simple, beautiful bracelet.

Whatever motivation it takes to get the dreaded chores done, let’s do it! :)

Maureen Thomson May 24, 2010 at 8:28 am

This is SO TRUE! Another technique that I employ that is similar to this one when I don’t feel like doing ANY housework is to set the timer for 15 minutes and just have it. When the timer dings, I’m done. It’s amazing how much one can accomplish in 15 minutes.

Luckily, my husband and I have different dreaded chores, so that helps to get things done. He abhors laundry so he never does it and I haven’t taken the trash out in 5 years! Ah…marital bliss!

Meredith May 24, 2010 at 9:37 am

@ Marci – great article! Thanks for sharing that with us.

@ Sunny – I love the idea of channeling our Inner French Girl. Great strategy. I’m off to find a cute necklace or scarf + some ballet flats to zotch up my boring white t-shirt and jeans.

@ Maureen – love the 15 minute timer strategy. I always say “I can do anything for 15 minutes.” It’s usually true.

Shannon S May 24, 2010 at 11:01 am

I love this concept. I am going to think on it today and then try to implement it into my daily routine. Don’t dread just do!

Emily Horak May 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Just hearing Spencer Pratt makes me wiggle with ick. lol What a perfect name for those dreaded chores. And you shine as a Penelope thinking to time your chores. I’ve got to do this myself now. It would actually feel better to me to know that I can schedule a shower cleaning into my day in a 15 minute time slot, rather than feeling like there’s some ambiguous Spencer Pratt task that could take forever (in my mind).

Carrie May 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

No matter how quick it is if I time it – I’m still always going to hate cleaning the bathroom! But I do it knowing that weekly cleanings are a whole lot easier than once a month ( or longer – eww)

Caity O'Connor May 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I play a game called “Make a Pot Of Tea” for the worst chores, or just the quotidian, boring ones: see how much I can get done before the kettle whistles (which is often way more than you’d think) then stop and add leaves to the teapot, and finish up (or get to a stopping point I can live with) as the tea brews. Timer and reward all in on!

Jennia May 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I like the fact that you “named” the chores. Very clever to time them and determine just how quickly they can actually be done. I find it easier to do all my chores when the house is running smoothly. Coming up to the end of a busy school year, it is NOT! So that is my first “Spencer Pratt” list of chores- getting everything back to where it belongs and DEEP, DEEP cleaning this house. Then summer will be a pleasure!!

tracey brower May 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I do this same thing. I have had times where I have worked myself into a state of near-hysteria over how much I didn’t want to do something, and then when I FINALLY did, it was like, “oh. Well, that was stupid”.

I am SO glad to hear I am a) not the only person who does this and b) not the only one who hates Spencer Pratt!

Angel May 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I tell myself that “it takes longer to complain about it than to do it.” And that helps a lot.

I can’t call it anything Spencer-related, though, as that is my son’s name. :)

Allison Byrd May 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

We should have a Penelope CONVENTION! I am made to feel so “anal retentive” and “uptight” for my, . . . er, . . . “thorough” record-keeping skills at work. And yet, when someone can’t find what they need, whether it ‘s an important legal document, or a spare iPhone charger, WHO do they come to???? You guessed it. I can’t help it if they are inefficient, scatter-brained incompetents. I mean, normal. ;)

No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane May 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

While I do hate some chores, I try to motivate myself by doing as much as I can in short bursts of time. Knowing that it will “be over soon” makes it feel a little less overwhelming! :)

marybeth @ www.babygoodbuys.com June 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I LOVE this, and I started thinking this way last week. The kitchen floor was dirty, I had just put the kids to bed and I just wanted to sit down for a bit before putting myself to bed. I then told myself, “In 15 minutes it will be clean”. DONE! Now, it’s probably time to do it again, but I can spare 15 minutes, right?

Terry Elwonger October 16, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I have been checking around #hostname and really am amazed by the exceptional content material here. I work the night shift at my job and it really gets boring. I have been coming right here for the past couple nights and reading. I simply needed to let you know that I have been delighted with what I’ve seen and I can’t more.

Leave a Comment

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

 

Previous post:

Next post: